24 Companies Participate in CableLabs' Advanced Advertising 1.0 Interop

US cable industry research, development and standardization body, CableLabs, said Tuesday that 24 companies participated in its most recent Advanced Advertising Interop, which was held last week and which it says was its largest and most comprehensive to date. The week-long event was organized in conjunction with the SCTE DVS/Working Group 5 and Canoe Ventures, and was attended by cable and programming executives, in addition to the participating technologists, CableLabs says. The event showcased end-to-end interoperability for a variety of ad formats, including interactivity (such as voting/polling and request-for-information apps), ad insertion in VOD content, ad insertion in linear content, telescoping, and graphic overlays on VOD content. In addition, some of the formats were enhanced with addressable advertising, CableLabs says.

According to the organization, the participating companies demonstrated their ability to interoperate with one another using content formats and interfaces that meet the Advanced Advertising 1.0 specification, which was jointly developed by CableLabs and Canoe Ventures and released earlier this year. Advanced Advertising 1.0 is billed as allowing cable operators to provide more innovative types of advanced ads on their digital platforms with consistent technologies, metrics and interfaces across a national footprint. The specification is maintained by a CableLabs Working Group that includes technical leads from cable MSO's, Canoe Ventures and CableLabs itself, and that seeks input from the vendor community. "We are extremely pleased with the enthusiasm of the vendor community for implementing a common end-to-end architecture that will enable compelling new advertising products," Don Dulchinos, CableLabs' SVP of advertising and interactive services, said in a prepared statement. "The great turnout shows the increasing momentum behind the MSO and Canoe efforts to adopt standards that allow for the delivery of new ad forms to a national footprint." Added Canoe CTO, Arthur Orduna: "This unprecedented collaboration among CableLabs, Canoe, SCTE and the vendor community moves us closer to our common vision. With standards, we can finally scale our products and offer national reach for marketers using our advanced ad products."

The 24 participating technology companies were Alcatel-Lucent, Arris, Avail-TVN, BigBand Networks, BlackArrow, Cisco Systems, Concurrent, Ensequence, FourthWall Media (formerly BIAP), Motorola, NBC Universal, NDS, Nielsen Claritas, OpenTV, RGB Networks, SeaChange International, Sigma Systems, Softel, Strategy & Technology, Tandberg Television, ThinkAnalytics, ThisTechnology, UniSoft, and Visible World. Guests at the event included representatives from BendBroadband, Cable Europe Labs, Cablevision, Canoe Ventures, Comcast, Comcast Spotlight, Cox, Disney/ESPN, Harris Broadcast Communications, NBC Universal, the NCTA, Starz, Texscan, Time Warner Cable and Turner.

According to CableLabs, the participating technology companies' products included ad campaign managers, ad decision services, content information systems, placement opportunity systems, subscriber information systems, enhanced TV (ETC) streamers, EBIF user agents, and ad splicers. Using these products, the organization says, groups of vendors demo'd the end-to-end process of delivering a variety of advanced ad formats. In addition, CableLabs says, the advanced advertising platform enables customer response information to be aggregated--with no personally identifiable information exposed--through a common measurement format and shared with either the cable operator or the advertiser. "This Interop highlights the progress of interoperability based on SCTE-130 standards and CableLabs SaFI (Stewardship and Fulfillment Interface) specs which will enable the delivery of advanced ad forms that include interactivity and addressability," Paul Woidke, SVP and general manager of advanced advertising at OpenTV and chairman of DVS/Working Group 5, the SCTE committee that is working on advanced advertising, said in a prepared statement.

Three of the participating companies--FourthWall Media, BlackArrow and Arris--have provided more information on their involvement in the Interop event:

  • FourthWall Media says that its technologies were elements of three "use cases which demonstrated the industry's progress in breaking through traditional barriers between advertisers and consumers": 1) The company teamed with Concurrent to demo a use case which it says consisted of a voting and polling application on VOD with addressable parameters. According to the company, the demonstration included interactive voting and polling using the EBIF specification, interactive campaign management using SCTE-130 specifications, and data collection and distribution using the CableLabs SaFI specification (note: for more on the partnership between FourthWall Media and Concurrent, see the separate article in today's issue). 2) It teamed with a number of companies on a demo of dynamic ad insertion into linear programming. It says that the demo utilized its EBIF Authoring and Asset Management technology, its EBIF User Agent and its ETV Platform Server. 3) Its Ad Widgets system, EBIF User Agent, ETV Platform and VODMax widget provided support for the BlackArrow Advanced Advertising System in demo'ing interactive telescoping ad capabilities that it says used the full suite of ETV, SCTE-130 and SaFI interfaces (see below).
  • A press release from BlackArrow provides a little more detail on that company's collaboration with FourthWall Media: "The two companies presented how cable system operators can use FourthWall Media's EBIF platform and BlackArrow's Sales and Decision Suites to create EBIF advertising applications; to manage and execute the delivery of EBIF advertisements to individual set-top boxes; and to generate reports that confirm execution and receipt of advertising placements for sponsors," the release states, adding that "the CableLabs demonstration illustrated how interactive campaign information can flow into BlackArrow's placement opportunity information service (POIS) and ad decision service (ADS), as well as the FourthWall Media system, using CableLabs Stewardship and Fulfillment Interfaces (SaFI)," and that the companies "demonstrated management and delivery of advertisements containing accompanying interactive telescoping EBIF overlay applications, and the transmission, aggregation and reporting of viewer engagement with the EBIF applications for use by cable operators, programmers and advertisers."
  • Arris, meanwhile, says that it worked with several companies--including BlackArrow, FourthWall Media, OpenTV, Sigma Systems, This Technology and UniSoft--on demonstrations of dynamic VOD ad insertion using audience qualifiers, addressable linear advertising, interactive telescoping advertising, and interactive TV using the EBIF standard.


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